Welcome to the English Department

  • High school English focuses on basic literacy, the proper use of language for personal and public reasons, and the development of an appreciation for various types of literature.  In the ninth and tenth grades, students continue to apply the knowledge and skills acquired in the earlier grades but in more refined and sophisticated ways. Emphasis is centered on analyzing literature, analyzing career-related and other informational materials completing more complex writing assignments, and giving oral presentations. In the eleventh and twelfth grades, English Language Arts (ELA) standards are sophisticated extensions of the knowledge and skills targeted in the earlier grades. They highlight several interrelationships among the different domains of language arts: reading, writing, written and oral English-language conventions, and speaking and listening.

    English Department

    Front Row:  Ms. Margaret Gillham, Ms. Janus Stechel and Ms. Totam Dao
    Back Row:  Ms. Donna Tucker, Mr. Matt Lencioni, Mr. Alfredo Resendiz, and Mr. Charles Vines

     

Courses Offered:

  • ENGLISH 1P ~ 9TH GRADE (Puente). A-G Approved-10 CREDITS. Emphasis will be on reading core works of literature, both classic and contemporary. Students will develop an understanding of and appreciation for various literary genres, including novels, short stories, plays, and poetry. The course will also include a study of informational materials and functional workplace documents. The writing component will stress the correct usage of English conventions and build the composition skills necessary to develop fluency using the writing process. Students will employ practical applications of technology to produce written documents and deliver presentations. An Honors extra point is not granted for a-g.

    ENGLISH 2P ~10TH GRADE (Puente). A-G Approved-10 CREDITS. Emphasis will be on universal themes found in core works of literature, both classic and contemporary. Student will study technical documents and informational materials to evaluate their credibility using research and analysis. Students will continue their study of the writing process to become adept at composing narrative, expository, persuasive and response to literature essays. Students will utilize technology to produce documents in all of the writing genres and to enhance their understanding of literature.

    ENGLISH 3P~ 11TH GRADE. A-G Approved-10 CREDITS. Emphasis will be on literary criticism as students analyze all of the genres of American literature in their historical context. Students will trace the development of language, theme, and culture from the colonial period forward and evaluate the political, philosophical, religious, and social issues represented by the various authors. Writing will demonstrate a command of English conventions and show fluency in the application of all writing domains, including reflective essays and historical research papers. Students will develop multi-media presentations that show competence in speaking and listening.

    AP ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND COMPOSITION. A-G Approved-10 CREDITS. Prerequisite: Student commitment to persist for entire school year in college-level course and take the AP examination in the spring. Emphasis will be on extensive close reading of non- fiction materials from a variety of genres in addition to the traditional study of American literature. Students will study the rhetorical strategies and techniques that authors employ in order to convey their meaning. Students will practice incorporating these strategies into their own writing to produce sophisticated text and properly documented college-level research papers. Students will develop multi-media presentations that show competence in speaking and listening. This class will prepare students to take the AP English Language and Composition exam.

    AP ENGLISH LITERATURE. A-G Approved-10 CREDITS. Prerequisite: Grade of B in a previous course, writing sample, and required summer reading Emphasis will be on extensive reading and analyzing works of world literature through the centuries with a focus on British literature. Students will employ literary criticism and comparative analysis in the study of each literary period. Writing will demonstrate sophistication in the use of rhetoric and control of English conventions. Compositions will show a broader spectrum of creativity and depth of style that is acceptable at the college level.Written and oral communication will show evidence of higher-level technical skills through the integration of databases, graphics, spreadsheets, and word-processed documents. This class will prepare students to take the AP English Literature and Composition exam.

    ENGLISH LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT 1, 2, 3 ~GRADES 9-12. 40 CREDITS. Only one year of this course, the highest level, meets UC requirements as college prep (Level 3) This course meets the English requirement for students whose native language is not English. Vocabulary, basic communication skills, and literature in beginning English are studied. Instruction is delivered using special methodologies and strategies to ensure comprehension of written and spoken English. The purpose is to develop students’ reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills to a proficient level in both fluency and literacy.

    EXPOSITORY READING & WRITING COURSE (ERWC) ~12TH GRADE. A-G Approved-10 Credits. Alternate to English 4P (12th Grade English) The ERWC aligns with the California English-Language Arts Content Standards, addresses critical reading and writing problems identified by the CSU English Placement Test Committee, and prepares students to meet the expectations of college and university faculty. Course assignments into 14 modules and based mainly on non-fiction texts emphasize the in-depth study of expository, analytical, and argumentative reading and writing. The University of California has approved the ERWC for “a-g” requirements (area “b” credit), and the course meets college preparatory requirements for both the UC and CSU.

    JOURNALISM, NEWSPAPER - GRADES 9-12. A-G Approved-MAX. 40 CREDITS. Prerequisite: A grade of C or better in English, department approval First year students will learn the business of producing a school newspaper. In the second through fourth years, students will become editors, business managers, and photographers, handling the business related to newspaper production. All students will learn news writing skills as well as layout, caption writing, and design tasks required to produce a newspaper.

    JOURNALISM, YEARBOOK - GRADES 9-12. MAX. 40 CREDITS. Prerequisite: A grade of C or better in English, department approval Students will produce the school yearbook and become involved in planning, reporting, and photography. They will also arrange for financing, promotion, and distribution. This course requires knowledge and use of the applications of various computer software and design programs, such as Page Maker and Photoshop. Students are taught to meet deadlines, and to develop strong organizational skills.

Faculty

Ms. Totam Dao

Phone: 626-396-5600 ext. 82155

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Ms. Totam Dao

Ms. Dao teaches 9th and 10th grade English, as well as Puente, for the Arts, Entertainment, and Media Academy at Muir. She started teaching at Muir in 2014.  She also just begun as the yearbook teacher this 2018/2019 school year.  Ms. Dao earned her BA in English from UC Berkeley, her M.Ed in Teaching, and her teaching credential for English Language Arts from USC.  Ms. Dao's family is originally from Vietnam.  After the fall of Saigon in 1975, her family tried escaping Vietnam by boat, but were kicked off the boat. Finally, in 1985, her parents and two older brothers were sponsored to come to the United States.  She and her younger brother were born here.  When applying to work at John Muir, Ms. Dao did her research.  She discovered it sounded a lot like the high school she went to and that really appealed to her.    

 

Ms. Margaret Gillham

Phone:

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Ms. Margaret Gillham

Ms. Gillham has been teaching full-time at Muir since 2006 - 13 Years!  She earned her B.A. in Art History from Indiana University, her M.A. in Art History from the University of Illinois, in Champaign-Urbana, and her Teaching Credential from CSULA.  Her son is in his first year at UC Santa Cruz and to fill her empty nest transition, she has become a novice sourdough bread baker.  What does she love most about Muir - "our students!" 

Mr. Matt Lencioni

Phone: 626-396-5600 ext. 82180

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Mr. Matt Lencioni

Mr. Lencioni earned a BA in English from the University of California, Davis in 2000.  He then received his single subject (English) teaching credential from California State University, Sacramento in 2004. Mr. Lencioni is also certified to teach Puente English after attending their summer institute in 2013.  Mr. Lencioni began his teaching career at Federal Way High School in Federal Way, Washington and began teaching at John Muir in the 2008/2009 school year.  He grew up in South Florida but moved to California when he was eighteen.  In his spare time, Mr. Lencioni coaches his daughters' softball team.  He also enjoys spending time during the summer playing golf.    What Mr. Lencioni loves about John Muir - Having an impact in the community where he lives. He also thinks students are fun to be around and they show such a willingness to grow both socially and academically. He also feels that Muir has a great group of teachers who are committed to helping students grow.

Mr. Alfredo Resendiz

Phone: 626-396-5600 ext. 82122

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Mr. Alfredo Resendiz

Mr. Resendiz currently teaches English 9ELD, 9, and 11.  He taught at Muir back in 2005 and joined Muir again in 2018.  Mr. Resendiz earned his BA in English from CSULA and his M.Ed.- from the University of Phoenix.  Mr. Resendiz enjoys both coaching and watching baseball. Teaching in his community and at his alma mater, where his sons were 3rd generation Muirites, means everything to Mr. Resendiz.

Mr. Burnis Simon

Phone: 626-396-5600 ext. 82115

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Mr. Burnis Simon

Ms. Janus Stechel

Phone: 626-396-5600 ext. 82184

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Ms. Janus Stechel

Ms. Stechel began her teaching career as a long-term substitute teacher in the late 80s.  She then taught English at Eliot for several years but left for a while to raise her children.  She returned to Eliot but eventually moved to John Muir in 2012.  Ms. Stechel earned her AA at Mt. San Antonio Junior College, her BA at UCSB, and her Teaching Certificate at CSULA.  Ms. Stechel enjoys gardening, hiking, plays, reading, yoga, family and pets.  One of her favorite hobbies is creating mosaic art pieces on walls and doors.   One of her happiest accomplishments is when she gets an "ah-ha" from a student who has connected to something she's taught.  She loves everything about Muir including the students, staff, and administration whose support and care always makes her feel she has a home.

Ms. Donna Tucker

Phone: 626-396-5600 ext. 82126

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Ms. Donna Tucker

Ms. Tucker is the English Department Chair.  She has been teaching since 2001 but has been at John Muir since 2015.  She earned her Bachelors in English, a Bachelors in Education, and a Masters degree. She attended Ohio State University, University of Cincinnati, and Miami University.  Ms. Tucker says she is a cliche in that she loves to read and travel.  She has been a kick boxer for the past 22 years.  She also was teacher of the year in Cincinatti in 2011.  What Ms. Tucker loves most about Muir - "The kids are the best and the staff goes above and beyond everyday".

Mr. Charles Vines

Phone: 626-396-5800 ext. 82136

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Mr. Charles Vines

Mr. Vines began his teaching career at the Institute Of Reading Development in 2002.  He then became a public high school teacher in Detroit in 2005.  He began teaching at Muir in 2008.  Mr. Vines earned his BA in English from Michigan State University and his M.Ed at Wayne State University.  When Mr. Vines is not teaching, he is a DJ and music producer. He also likes hiking, yoga, film, and cooking.  Mr. Vines has been nominated twice for PUSD teacher of the year.  Best thing about Muir "the students!" 

Mr. Damian Willis

Phone: 626-396-5600 ext. 82123

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Mr. Damian Willis